Welterweight boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has made one too many comments regarding homosexuality during his recent senate campaign in the his home country of the Philippines — Nike has dropped its commercial deal with the boxer after he opined those involved in gay relationships “are worse than animals.”
“It’s just common sense,” Pacquiao said in the remarks posted online by the TV5 network. “Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?”
The 37-year-old Pacquiao is already a member of the country’s House of Representatives. He is widely considered a national hero in the Philippines, having captured over 10 world titles in over eight weight classes, and has been in the spotlight since last year’s mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. The bout shattered every known record for sponsorship, box-office sales and pay-per-view fees.
However, due to the aforementioned comments, Pacquiao has come under much expected scrutiny from his home nation’s gay community, and local activists say his opinion carries weight in the country in shaping both public opinion and the overseas image of the world’s fifth largest Catholic country. Pacquiao is know as a very devout Christian.
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” Nike said Wednesday in a statement. “Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community.”
Pacquiao, who is simultaneously preparing for the final fight of his career in April against Timothy Bradley Jr., has seen his promoter Bob Arum scramble to contain the damage done by the TV interview. “What he’s saying is diametrically opposed to what I believe,” said Arum, who is promoting Pacquiao’s upcoming fight with Bradley. “I’m in favor of gay rights and same sex marriage. I’m apologetic personally to the gay movement in the United States.”
But Pacquiao himself said they aren’t his words. They are the words of God. On his Facebook page, Pacquiao said he was “just telling the truth of what the Bible says.” Soon after, he wrote another post on his Facebook page, with a sort of makeshift apology.
“I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals,” Pacquiao wrote. “Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt. I still stand on my belief that I’m against same sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I’m not condemning LGBT. I love you all with the love of the Lord. God Bless you all and I’m praying for you.”